Rides & Routes


Cycle Life


1887 Sketchbook

New pages



Site Map


Cycling for Mercy Ships

Rob Adams with fellow CTC members at Penmaenmawr

ROTARY CYCLING FOR MERCY SHIPS Rob Adams (left), Rotary Club of Chester, on the final leg of his tour of 17 Merseyside and North Wales Rotary Clubs in aid of Mercy Ships. http://www.mercyships.org.uk/ Rob is seen here with two fellow CTC members living in Penmaenmawr, Bill Edwards and Past President of the Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr Rotary Club, David Bathers.

Rob Adams writes

As well as being a keen cyclist I am a keen Rotarian so it struck me that I could combine the two enthusiasms to raise money for one of this year’s main Rotary charities, “Mercy Ships”. This charity buys and converts ships into hospital ships. They are then based in areas of the world where hospital facilities are few and far between. Some of you may have seen the most recent one as it visited Liverpool recently. It has 5 operating theatres including one specialising in opthalmics.

My main aim was to visit as many club meetings as I could in 2 weeks in District 1180. Rotary clubs are divided into districts and the local one extends from Newtown in the south, Holyhead to the west and the whole of North Wales plus the Wirral, Liverpool and south Lancashire. Each Rotary club meets once a week. They are either a lunch club, evening club or even a breakfast pre-work club so I had to plan the best route I could taking into consideration their meeting times and distances between them. The resultant route was rather eccentric.

Rotarians are very friendly and it was an extremely enjoyable experience. I met a friend whom I had not seen for over 20 years and I think have made several new ones.

I set off the first week in the pouring rain with the 5 day forecast ringing in my ears of rain all day for the week. I arrived in Chester (my club) reasonably dry (not like the previous sponsored ride I had done for Rotary when my friend and I arrived absolutely soaked). After lunch I continued up the Wirral again in the rain and arrived there wet, so I had a shower and cheated by getting a taxi for the two miles from Heswall to the North Wirral busy but sympathetic meeting.

Next morning was bright and sunny. After a delightful breakfast with Mid Wirral I cycled across to Woodside Ferry Terminal. Unfortunately I had to wait for an hour for the next ferry which left it a bit tight for getting to Ormskirk for lunch. Fortunately I had done a recce to be able to get on to the canal but not where to come off it. It is a most interesting experience going along the canal from Elsdon Community Village, built on the old Vauxhall site. You see interesting areas of regeneration and some of dereliction. I was not certain where to come off the canal so eventually I decided to take the next point which turned out to be the place I had most wanted to avoid, Switch Island, at the end of the M57! Fortunately it has been modified recently and has some good pedestrian crossings, and at least I knew how to get from there to Ormskirk; but it was still quite a way and so I arrived 5 minutes late. From there I went on to Southport where there was a vicious side wind. I was just arriving at Southport when it began to rain. It was a pity as I had been looking forward to a game of boules on the beach.

Next morning I made my way back along the canal to the pier head, arriving I thought in good time with 15 minutes to spare, only to find that the temporary jetty (because the usual one had sunk several months earlier) was half a mile from the ticket office, and so I nearly missed the ferry. My next port of call was the Birkenhead club which meet at the Prenton Golf Club's magnificent facilities for lunch. From there was an easy stretch down to Ellesmere Port club, which meets at the also magnificent Holiday Inn, overlooking the canal basin of the museum.

The fourth morning was again bright and an easy ride up to Heswall Club at Thornton Grange. I had not realised what pleasant lanes there were there plus the Cheshire cycleway. My final visit of the week was to Wrexham Erddig who hold their meeting at the Football Club.

After a week's gap to catch up with work (and give my bike a rest) I set off for my second week to do the Welsh section of the district. My first visit was to Oswestry for lunch (I know Oswestry is not quite in Wales!). The club has quite a number of cyclist members. From there I pressed on to Bala via Llangynog. The Tanat Valley is beautiful. The 4 mile climb out of Llangynog took 50 minutes, the next 5 miles only took 12 minutes! The Bala club there meet in a very nice pub / restaurant in the High Street and again I was made most welcome.

Bala of course is in a beautiful setting so the next morning I spent the morning cycling round the lake and was lucky enough to see and photograph the little train with the head of the lake as a background. I lunched by the lakeside before setting off over the moors to Denbigh. I was delighted to get an almost aerial view of a dog working a flock of sheep. Denbigh club meets in a delightful pub restaurant.

Unfortunately my gears were playing up so I started the next morning by trying to adjust them, but was only partially successful.  I eventually set off for Denbigh but my chain broke twice before I got there. I managed to repair it and go on to Ruthin where I met the Ruthin Club president, his wife and two members for lunch, though it was not their club meeting. In the afternoon I pressed on up the Nant-y-Garth Pass and over the Horseshoe Pass and dropped down to Llangollen. It was half way down there that I realised I had my eyes closed because my eyes were stinging so much from perspiration – not to be recommended! Llangollen is always interesting and I had time to look around before going to the meeting.

The cause of my gear problems was incompatibility of the gears with my new wheel, so my wife brought over my old wheel and a new chain. Having fitted those next morning I set off for Conwy and Llanfairfechan. The diversion on the A5 made cycling along it a much pleasanter experience than I expected, as the traffic was far less than usual along its beautiful route. I turned off it at Pentrefoelas and on down into Llanrwst along one of the most beautiful tree lined lanes I have ever cycled along. I crossed the attractive bridge and had a well earned ice cream in the heat at the café by the river. I continued along the B 5106 where I was met by David Bathers, an ex-CTC council member, who guided me to and round Conwy to Llanfairfechan. The club met at a golf club with a superb view over the coast and sea.

The following morning David guided me round Conwy, Llandudno and took me as far Rhos. The day again was hot but with a strong head wind for all of the 66 miles I did that day. Lunch was at the only Friday club in the district, Rhyl, which meets at the Masonic Hall. This was the final club meeting that I was to visit and like all the previous clubs I was made most welcome and it made a fitting finale.

At Flint I was able to make a fleeting informal visit to Flint’s Club president, making a grand total of 15 club meetings plus 2 meetings with presidents

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Wednesday Section who supported my efforts so generously towards the overall total of £1,460.

In the first week I covered 176 miles and put on 3lbs: the second I rode 260 miles and lost 1 lb!


This account first appeared in THE LINK, the quarterly magazine of the Chester & North Wales District Association, CTC. (£5 per annum for CTC members).